Ellington Jazz Series presents the second “Homegrown on Common Ground” Concert November 12

New Haven’s Ben Allison, bassist and composer for NPR’s “On the Media,” is featured with his band; St. Luke’s Steel Band and Andy Akiho return

After the success of the first “Homegrown on Common Ground” concert last April, the Ellington Jazz Series at the Yale School of Music revisits the theme of having musicians from Yale and New Haven share the stage of Sprague Hall for an evening of exciting and creative music.

The first “Common Ground” concert caused a sensation with a jazz piano trio, a 20-member steel band, and leading-edge music written by several Yale composers for an eclectic instrumental ensemble that included steel pans alongside a rhythm section, winds, and strings. The second “Homegrown on Common Ground” concert on Friday, November 12 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College Street) picks up where the first concert left off.

Director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship, Willie Ruff, has invited several of the performers to return as well as the featured guest artist, Ben Allison, the jazz bassist and composer of music for NPR’s “On the Media.” Allison is a native of New Haven who studied music at the Educational Center for the Arts and who played his first professional gigs on the salsa circuit in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He will perform with his band, which includes Jenny Scheinman, violin; Michael Blake, saxophones; Steve Cardenas, guitar; and Rudy Royston, drums. Returning by popular demand is the St. Luke’s Steel Band from New Haven, directed by Deborah Teason, and steel pan virtuoso Andy Akiho. Akiho will again appear with the St. Luke’s Band, as well as with the Yale Steel Band and the Common Ground Ensemble.  Four composer/performers – Andy Akiho (steel pans), Deborah Teason, Samuel Adams (bass), and Paul Kerekes (piano) – have written pieces that will be premiered by this group, which features three pan players in addition to piano, bass, drums, and violin.

“These young musicians are creating some of the most exciting and original music I’ve heard in a long time,” says Ruff. “I think we’re seeing history being made by these composer-performers.”

Tickets to the concert are $12 to $20, $7 with student ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit music.yale.edu or call the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158.

Panel Discussion,  “A Vision for the Future of Music”

The next day, November 13 at 10 am in Sudler Recital Hall, 100 Wall Strett (next door to Sprague Hall), Willie Ruff will be joined by Ben Alliston, Andy Akiho, and several of the other performers of the previous night’s concert in a wide-ranging panel discussion, “A Vision for the Future of Music,” that will explore the future of new music: the most promising trends in creative music-making, the kinds of venues where audiences will hear this music, the ressurgence of the composer-performer, and more. According to Ruff, “The question I intend to ask is, ‘In today’s rapidly changing musical landscape, what kind of tomorrow should the now emerging music makers be preparing for?'” Admission is free. MORE

Published October 20, 2010
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“Home Grown on Common Ground” concert features local stars

St. Luke’s Steel Band and Christian Sands, along with Yale performers Andy Akiho and friends

St. Luke's Steel Band

For the spring concert on the Ellington Jazz Series, artistic director Willie Ruff has gathered together an unusual array of talent from the New Haven area and Yale University for an exciting program. The concert is called “Home Grown on Common Ground,” and takes place on Friday, April 23, 2010 at 8 pm in Sprague Hall. The cast of local performers includes the remarkable 25-member St. Luke’s Steel Band and the Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Christian Sands with Thadeus Exposé on bass and Arti Dixson on drums. Among the Yale performers is composer and steel pan virtuoso Andy Akiho, who will perform with the St. Luke’s Steel Band and with a large ensemble of woodwind, string, and brass players from the Yale School of Music.

The program will include music by steel pan players Liam Teague and Andy Akiho, Yale graduate composers Sam Adams and Richard Harrold, and the piece Fire Down Below by popular steel pan composer Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. Teague, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who serves on the faculty at Northern Illinois University, has been called “the Paganini of the steel pan.” Akiho is a composer and percussionist who “shreds on the steel pan, defying stereotypes about what kind of music that instrument is intended for” (Hartford Advocate). Akiho, Adams, and Harrold are all students in the Yale School of Music’s graduate program in composition. MORE

Published March 30, 2010
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